[Regular Catching Courage readers will recognize Carol Mason’s name. She wrote about Jessica Mullins and sent photos of one of my favorite Australian birds, galahs. Be sure to click on the Brett Clifton link, which will introduce you to an extraordinary couple and their work with orphan Eastern Grey Kangaroos.]
The closest way to understand another is to get up close to them. Then the differences have a way of assuming their irrelevance. For we begin to see more clearly the essence of the other. The saying “do not judge another until you have walked a mile in his moccasins” is a very good one.
A friend, Brett Clifton and his wife, Yumi, daily walk closely beside so many kangaroos whom they have raised. Joeys come into care for a variety of reasons but nearly always having survived trauma. (Their mothers killed by car accidents or, more likely, having been shot.) The warmth of their comforting birth pouches and close bonds with their mothers have, therefore, been denied the infant joeys.
They must transfer trust to their new family – their dedicated carers, if they are lucky enough to come into their care. They become accustomed to their new artificial pouches and drinking special formula from a feeding bottle and gradually respond to the love given to them. And they give it in return.
It is not an easy task being a carer. One must overcome the effects of the stress that the young joeys have encountered and deal with many difficulties to facilitate their survival and provide for their hopeful longevity. Nothing is guaranteed, for life holds many hazards.
But there are the rewards. The ready acceptance by the growing joeys and their joyful readiness for ongoing companionship with those they trust. Eventually seeing them bounding into their adolescent freedoms when all the tasks of raising them over many months come to fruition.
As with people, their personalities differ widely. But, as with our human society, one takes that into account. And kangaroos have a society, a structure, bonds, loving relationships with one another. They also must do what they have to in order to survive as adults.
It is in moments like this photo that one can glimpse a little of how very much alike we are. Their hands, so similar to ours, are used for multiple tasks. They seek contact in their long-term relationships with people whom they have come to trust.
Being “up close”, one comes to understand their intelligence and sensitivity. Kangaroos in the wild so often flee man, from necessity. But they come to know when they don’t have to….and in those moments, when a so-called “wild” animal sits and watches you, deciding what you are about, something special happens. A potential that so many are seeking to preserve for the future, when mankind hopefully comes to a full understanding of the relevance of our fellow species’ capacities.